Story of Ozymandias (Rabat, Morocco)

Rabat is the capital of Morocco and home to Morocco’s Royal Palace. The large estate can be described as a walled city that not only houses one of the King’s Palace’s but also the minions who work there. Though we were excited to visit the grounds, we were more than disappointed with the reception we received. Neither buses nor taxis were allowed within a reasonable distance of the Palace; and thus, everyone had to walk approximately three to four blocks to photograph the palace. Actually we didn’t mind the walk; however, when we arrived, we didn’t appreciate the attitude of the many armed guards that kept us more than several hundred feet from the entry archway by blowing their whistles and using hostile gestures indicating we must not go further.

Rabat2Archway to  royal palace

 OK so let’s photograph another building. How about the King’s personal royal mosque. However, the moment we stepped on a grass like carpet that covered the cement outside of this building, the whistles began blowing again. Our advice is to forget visiting the King’s Palace if you go to Rabat. (We later learned that people are treated this way at all seven of the King’s Palaces in Morocco!) Better to spend your time at the ruins of Sala.

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In contrast, the Roman ruins of the town of Sala were delightful! The mosque, cemetery, and walls are largely ruins (some merely large square stone blocks stacked on top of each other).   Some of the towers are, however, in relatively good shape and are well used by the storks as building blocks for their large nests. We were not the only ones enjoying Sala that day. Students have a half-day of school on Fridays, and several teachers brought their primary school students to visit the area. They ran about having a great time, getting lots of exercise, but learning little history. The children and their teachers were all anxious to have their pictures taken; so much of our time was spent photographing them rather than the ruins. But it certainly was an experience we will remember! 

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Rabat23Mausoleum and fortified graveyard 

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 Another interesting site was the Hassan Tower, a reminder of a great mosque that was never completed. Begun in 1195, both the mosque and the tower were intended to be the largest minaret (tower from which people would be called to prayer) and mosque in the world. Instead of stairs, the tower was intended to be ascended by ramps that would have allowed the muezzin (a man who calls Muslims to prayer) to ride a horse to the top of the tower to issue the call to prayer. The tower reached 140 feet (about ½ of its intended 260 feet), however, neither it nor the mosque were ever completed because after four years of construction, the sultan died and construction was halted. What is left are the tower plus the beginnings of several walls and 200 columns. Leaders in olden times certainly had grandiose ideas!!! . . . but at what cost were they to the people? 

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Barbara Wood Cook at Hassan Tower

 So many times during this trip we have seen monument after monument, ruin after ruin . . . On so many levels I have been reminded of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem, “Ozymandias.” A traveler describes what he saw upon his visit to a spot where ancient civilizations once existed: a broken statue with the face of a stern and powerful man. On the pedestal, near the statue’s face, the traveler reads an inscription:

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings.
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

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7 Responses to “Story of Ozymandias (Rabat, Morocco)”

  1. Greetings Shirley—

    I can’t understand why you haven’t gotten our most recent post. Hmmmmm. We sent out a post on Obidos on 12/20. I believe that is the only one you have missed.

    We are now back in the US of A and glad I am!!!! We did have a great time, but it is always great to return home. I have it in my book to call you on the 29th, but if you are home, let me know and I will call sooner!!!

    Hope you had a great Xmas!! MJ cooked dinner, but other than that, we really didn’t do anything. . . except try to catch up on all of the things we need to catch up on . . . like putting away summer clothes and bringing out the winter duds. Such a chore to do 2X every year. I vow every year to cut down on the number of clothes I have and then I wouldn’t have to go through so much work!

    Let me know if you’re home in Texas and I’ll give you a ring!

    Cheers & Hugs!

    Carolyn

  2. Carolyn, Mary Jane, and Barb,

    I have not received a report from you since this one, which has stimulated some concern: are you ill? has the ship become stranded somewhere? or, are you off-line?

    Meanwhile, a brief holiday greeting from me

    Regardless of the multiplicity of beliefs, religious dogma, and traditions —

    Blessed is the season that engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love Hamilton Wright Mabie (1845-1916)

    Always love, Sh

  3. Such incredible photographs and descriptions! Thank you for sharing your adventures.

  4. rozzellmaryann@aol.com December 18, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Shell’s poem is quite apropos. Beautiful Moroccan architecture. Too bad the government is not more courteous to foreigners.

  5. Aha !! Storks and children !!! Makes perfect sense.

    As I reflect on your travels and the photos that capture it so grandly, I am thinking how clever you are to have the take-away visuals to help in separating all the various ports that you have visited … many of them are so similar but with distinguishable differences. I have kept the entire series for ym own review and pleasure.

    Such a gift !!!

  6. Christine Smith Hecht December 17, 2014 at 6:27 am

    Thanks for making me feel I am traveling right there with you girls! Wonderful pictures and commentary, and a great picture of my beautiful friend Barb! Love it!

  7. Wonderful narrative and photos. Love the picture of your sister!

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